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  • Writer's pictureBritt

Breaking the Mental Health Taboo

Updated: Apr 2

Why breaking the mental health taboo needs to be talked about...

When you aren't feeling your best mentally or struggling with an undiagnosed disorder, it's hard to know what's going on or even who to talk to. In the generations before mine, mental health was seemingly a taboo subject to talk about, and if you struggled with it, you just kept quiet. Now is the time to break that stigma and make the mental health talk the new normal.

Because of this taboo, struggling with your mental health can be scary and lonely. You may feel like you're all alone, that you're weird or different, or even that you're going crazy because no one else seems to be going through the same thing. The facts tell a completely different story than the one society likes to pretend is real. It's actually quite normal to struggle with your mental health. In fact, Johns Hopkins Medical Site did a study and found that "an estimated 26% of Americans ages 18 and older -- about 1 in 4 adults -- suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year" and many suffer from more than one.

Let's get personal—for years, I struggled with my mental health. My family was going through a tough time and I thought that what was happening in my head was not important. Plus, I felt bad that this was happening to me and I was embarrassed to talk about it.

Now, years later, I finally got diagnosed. I no longer have to feel like I'm slow or stupid. I no longer have to question why I feel the way I do or do the things I do. Getting diagnosed has given me such relief because I know there is something in my brain causing everything. I know that it is real and not just in my mind or that I'm making it up for pity or attention (even though I never talked about it with people, so they wouldn't even be able to feel bad for me because they didn't know). These feelings are very common in those struggling with mental health and/or mental disorders.

I was diagnosed with social anxiety, ADHD, and unspecified OCD (which just means that I didn't meet enough of the criteria for an OCD diagnosis, but I did have some of them—at least that's how I understood the doctor's notes on it).

I've been struggling with anxiety for a long time. Anxiety is something my mom and a decent amount of her siblings struggle with as well. She told me it wouldn't get better unless I forced myself to do the things I felt anxious about. It's probably never going to go away, but maybe I can make my life a little easier by trying things that make me feel anxious. In fact, right now, I'm sitting in a Biggby writing this even though I'm anxious about what people might think about me, how they perceive me, and how they might be judging me. I found a corner in the coffee shop where I wouldn't be in constant eyesight of the baristas for these exact reasons. Maybe someday I'll be brave enough to sit where they can see me.

I know, in reality, the baristas won't even care that I'm sitting there, they won't judge me for writing in a coffee shop or for getting an energy blast drink with sparkles in it because of the Fourth of July. I've worked in customer service and in a restaurant and I didn't judge people (most of the time). And even if they do, I won't know about it and I shouldn't worry about it.

I never spoke to anyone about my struggles with anxiety or the ADHD symptoms that I was getting frustrated with and that made my life harder than it needed to be. I never had suicidal ideations, but many do, and speaking to others about your mental health can save many lives. Mental health shouldn't be a taboo subject, especially not anymore.

I know it was a huge taboo to speak about back in the day (before I was born anyway) and that those who did (way back when) were institutionalized in insane asylums simply because they were struggling with their mental health and/or disorders.

We live in a different world now, but there are a lot of people (mostly the older generations that grew up in that world before) who still think we should keep our struggles private. However, if we do that, the kids, teens, young adults, and older folks who are struggling are going to struggle alone. They will learn to hate themselves and the way they feel. They might have anger in them towards their friends and family members for not noticing things are wrong even if they don't speak about it. They might do things to try and silently cry for help because they think it is wrong to speak about it. They might, God forbid, try and take their own life because they couldn't handle it anymore and felt like they couldn't talk about it to anyone.

We should teach our kids starting at a young age to talk about how they are feeling and what they are struggling with. We should be the person that others feel comfortable coming to and discussing these things. We should never, ever put others down for speaking up about how they feel. Be the comfortable, understanding person that everyone needs in their life.

And if you are struggling yourself, don't be afraid to talk to someone. It could be a friend, a relative of some sort, a pastor, someone who is struggling with the same thing (this can be helpful for people to see they aren't alone!), or even your doctor. Someone will be willing to listen and help you figure out what is best for you. And I can't stress counseling enough! It has helped me and my mother and I know it has helped many others. Just talking to someone can help so many people!

So I want this blog to be a safe place for people to talk about whatever they need to, a place where people can offer encouragement to others, and a place for people to understand each other. Sometimes, the ones who have gone through the same struggles can offer the most help to those who are learning to talk about it and trying to deal with it. We understand how you feel and can try and help you based on our own experiences.

This taboo on mental health needs to end and this blog can be a start to it.

So reach out, encourage, offer a listening ear, and just be there in general for those struggling, and never, never be afraid to speak with someone about how you're feeling.

For the suicide and crisis lifeline, dial 988.

— Live well and laugh often, Ravens. Signing off for now, Hyperactive Raven <3

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